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Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea


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Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea F.C.

Wednesday 8 April 2009, UEFA Champions League, Quarter Final, First Leg, Anfield, Merseyside

Branislav Ivanovic is mobbed by his team-mates after heading Chelsea ahead.

Branislav Ivanovic scored an unbelievable brace as Chelsea recorded a phenomenal victory at Anfield.

The Serbian equalised for Chelsea on 39 minutes when he connected with a dangerous Florent Malouda corner, and a similar headed finish in the second half put the Blues ahead after Fernando Torres had put the hosts ahead after just six minutes. But Chelsea - guided by the tactical genius of Guus Hiddink - were not to let their heads drop, and their stunning comeback was completed when Didier Drogba slotted past Pepe Reina after Malouda had rampaged down the left wing and crossed the ball for the Ivorian.

Though a second leg at Stamford Bridge is yet to be played, the advantage created by this incredible victory at a ground that harbours such nightmarish thoughts for Chelsea will surely give the Blues the confidence they need to continue their pursuit of a stunning Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble.

The visitors were absolutely different class to their opponents throughout, and though Liverpool took an early lead, such was the dogged determination of Chelsea's defence that Fernando Torres' opener was one of only a handful of clear goalscoring opportunities. On the other hand, the Blues were rampant as they carried out arguably their best performance for years but outclassing a Liverpool side that had previously beaten them twice in the league.

The result is no more than what Chelsea deserved for their all-round brilliance; from Petr Cech's authoritative performance between the posts to Didier's Drogba's brilliant display up front. But the headlines belong to Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic, whose first goals for Chelsea could not have been better-timed. Chelsea's number two will enter Blues folklore as the ecstatic travelling away fans out-sung the Kop for 90 minutes.

Guus Hiddink sprung a surprise by relegating Nicolas Anelka to the bench after only just returning from injury, instead electing to field Salomon Kalou and the in-form Florent Malouda alongside the fit-again Drogba. John Mikel Obi was an experienced bench that also featured Juliano Belletti, Anderson Deco and Ricardo Carvalho. Ivanovic retained his position at right-back in place of the crocked Jose Bosingwa - and the Serbian was imperious throughout. Michael Ballack operated as a second defensive midfielder as Michael Essien man-marked Steven Gerrard.

Liverpool showed early promise when they won a corner after just two minutes, and the ball was only-half cleared by Alex who could only head to Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman took a second to steady himself which allowed Ivanovic to heroically throw himself in front of the ball to deflect it behind for a fruitless set-piece.

But the Reds persevered, and a brilliant move led to a finish of the highest quality by Torres. Alonso played a superb reverse pass to Arbeloa, who crossed dangerously for Torres to volley home with three Chelsea players guilty of ball-watching. It was harsh on Chelsea, who had too looked up for the challenge, but the first blow from a home perspective had caused significant damage.

However, Chelsea were not prepared to succumb to pressure. In recent games, teams who had conceded early to Liverpool have sat back and tried to perform a rearguard action, but not this side. Back came Chelsea with an immediate response, but Drogba's shot was straight at Pepe Reina who had done well to charge down the Ivorian, who should have scored.

The much-maligned Florent Malouda was next to try his luck. Putting in decent shifts in days of late, the Frenchman was showing signs of confidence as he gracefully glided forward, and his combination with Drogba almost opened the hosts' defence up, but the Chelsea winger's effort from an angle was a foot wide of the mark. The Blues soon won their first corner, and Kalou's chipped pass into the area looking for Alex was well dealt with by Reina, who reached the ball fractionally before the Brazilian.

On 28 minutes, an unforced error by Lampard gave Torres the opportunity to close in on goal, but the presence of the England star was enough to force the Spaniard to cut back, before unleashing a curling shot that fell just wide of the target, before Arbeloa tried his luck with a speculative shot that bent just around the post with Cech scrambling.

But soon after Chelsea pushed on and their endeavours were awarded with a corner, which was to be taken by Malouda. The Frenchman swung the ball in for Ivanovic to attack, who duly powered the ball into the net beyond Reina to hand Chelsea a priceless away goal. However, Liverpool immediately responded, and only a brilliant save from Cech; rushing out to deny Kuyt after the Dutchman had beaten John Terry, kept the scores level as the whistle was blown for the interval.

The second half as entertaining and exciting as the first, with Gerrard shooting wide on 47 minutes after earning himself a yard of space some 25 yards out. On 51 minutes, Chelsea went the closest to taking the lead, as Lampard played in Drogba. The Ivorian beat Reina with his left-footed drive but Jamie Carragher slid in to clear the ball off the line. It was beginning to be a frustrating evening for the striker, who had also blazed over from 8 yards after being played in, but Chelsea were not to be undone.

Torres missed when in a good position whilst under pressure from Alex, before John Terry's challenge on Pepe Reina led to a booking for the Chelsea skipper, resulting in suspension for the second leg. Terry had every right to challenge for the ball and it was Reina who seemed to cause the damage as he accidentally kneed the Blues captain in the ribs. It was a small price to pay for what happened two minutes later.

Not many players score a brace at Anfield. Not many defenders score a brace in any game. But Branislav Ivanovic wrote himself into the stuff of legends as he bulleted the ball into the net from a Frank Lampard corner. Chelsea were jubilant; Liverpool were shell-shocked. The Blues had burst Hull City's bubble in November, had spoilt the party at Aston Villa in February and only nine days earlier ruined Alan Shearer's homecoming at Newcastle - will Liverpool suffer the same fate?

On 66 minutes, they showed signs of doing exactly that. As they pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Malouda was given time and space on the wing. Ballack had dissected the defence with a brilliant pass into the Frenchman, who galloped forward before crossing to Drogba, who buried the ball into the back of the net. It was a goal the striker's performance deserved and one the entire team warranted for their hard work. Liverpool 1, Chelsea 3 was not a flattering scoreline to Chelsea, but instead to their hosts.

And the Anfield faithful had their heads in their hands as substitute Dossena almost headed into his own net, only for Reina to instinctively keep the ball out. Many would have expected Liverpool to throw everything at Chelsea, but Rafa Benitez' side seemed willing to accept the defeat. They had been out-played, out-classed and out-fought in every position, and the resigned feeling around Anfield - coupled with taunts from the travelling supporters - suggested defeat was inevitable.

And a deflected Torres effort which was straight down Cech's throat, followed by a long-range effort from Xabi Alonso in stoppage time was all Liverpool could muster as substitute Anelka and his forward partners kept them very much on the back foot. The ground was subdued, but for a pocket of signing Chelsea fans. Anfield had been conquered.


The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match award goes to...


Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea F.C.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry ©, A Cole; Ballack, Essien; Kalou, Lampard, Malouda; Drogba (Anelka)

Liverpool: Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio (Dossena); Lucas (Babel), Alonso; Kuyt, Gerrard ©, Riera (Benayoun); Torres

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2 shots on goal the WHOLE GAME :D

i dont think Florent should ever have another haircut because clearly the power comes from the hair LOL

and the crowd were awesome when they asked where the famous atmosphere was :lol:

and SLAVO was awesome :D

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2 shots on goal the WHOLE GAME :D

i dont think Florent should ever have another haircut because clearly the power comes from the hair LOL

and the crowd were awesome when they asked where the famous atmosphere was :lol:

and SLAVO was awesome :D

Yeah Maloudas barnet seems to be where his strength is. :)

When we score on Tuesday I cant see the Murderers getting four, so Barca here we come .....

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